Division 2 Review + Predictions
Who's Gonna Replace Queens??
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🏊♀️ DIVISION 2 RECAP 🏊🏽♂️
War of Succession
Division 2 NCAAs has been a meet of streaks for most of its history. Queens University of Charlotte added swimming as a sport in 2010. They hired the dynamic duo of Jeff Dugdale (Head Coach) and David Marsh (Executive in Residence for Athletics and High Performance) from nextdoor's SwimMAC to develop the program and quickly bring in some of the best recruiting classes. Coach Dugdale still leads the program today, as they enter the D1 octagon.
Starting in 2015, the Royals won every NCAA title and currently hold 25 of the 38 total meet records on the men's and women's side. In a word, dominant.
Then in May, Queens announced they'd be starting the transition to Division 1 athletics, so a new champion will be crowned come March. And from the first semester results, it looks like it's going to be a heck of a team race. With Queens scoring over 1100+ combined points last year, how can it not?
D2 has a smaller athlete cap (175 men/205 women) than D1 (235 men/281 women) giving more power to the teams with the highest number of qualifiers. Plus, you can swim up to 4 individual events.
Isn't D2 cool?!
University of Indianapolis was the runner-up to Queens on the women's side in 2022 and is in the thick of things after the fall semester. Sprinter Johanna Buys has already been faster than her 2022 NCAA time to narrowly lead the nation, and their 200 free relay is one of the few in D2 history to feature 4 splits sub-23.
Nova Southeastern (2022 third-place team) leans more on their stroke group, with 2 of the top 5 currently in the 100 back, 100 breast, and 200 IM, plus impact transfer Emily Trieschmann running the free gamut from the 100 up to the mile.
Colorado Mesa, fifth in 2022, is a bit of a wild card as their midseason meet was at altitude. Their strength lies in their middle distance groups, with 5 in the top 13 of the 200 free, 3 of the top 6 in the 500 free, and currently the #1 200 back, 200 breast, and 400 IM, and #2 200 IM (altitude adjusted). Lily Borgenheimer is their star, owning those 200 breast and 200/400 IM rankings as well as contributing relay legs wherever needed.
Drury, the team Queens supplanted as NCAA streaker after having won 10 championships in a row from 2005-2014, was the runner-up on the men's side in 2022. Despite a lot of turnover (gone is uber-sprinter Karol Ostrowski and Olympian backstroker Mikita Tsmyh, among others), they look to be the favorites this year. They've gone back to their roots in the middle distances, with an 800 free relay fully 4 seconds faster than #2 Tampa in the first semester. Can they go streaking again?
McKendree is also lurking. They have some holes - their distance group is not as strong as the days of NCAA record-holder Fabio Dalu, now swimming and scoring at D1 NCAAs for Ohio State - but they have championship experience with the likes of Gregg Lichinsky, Felipe Pinheiro, and perhaps the best butterflier in D2 in Jack Lustig.
Indy also stands to feature in the men's meet. Their sprint group is scary, the only team with 3 guys under 20 in the 50 and 2 under 44 in the 100. As best as I can find, Jeron Thompson is the first D2 man to swim sub-21 in a 50 back, sneaking under with a 20.99 at the House of Champions Invite.
Other teams will be fighting for podium spots as well...
- University of Tampa boasts well-rounded teams, with the sprint stroke groups for the women and the mid-D group for the men shining.
- West Chester's Ann Carozza is the record holder in the 100 and 200 flies and will look to lead the Golden Rams before their NCAA penalty period for improper control on their attached club team sets in.
- Colorado Mesa has perhaps the best overall male swimmer in D2 who we'll discuss later, but perhaps not enough depth to challenge the top teams.
- Oklahoma Christian has some big names on the men's side - mid-D title contender Victor Rosado, 200 breast 2022 champ JT Amrein, relay hammer Brandon Heredia, but likewise with their conference counterparts CMU they may not have enough secondary scorers to get to the podium.
Transfers Make Their Mark
One of the things that makes D2 unpredictable is the sometimes surprise appearance of transfers from D1 schools. That's less of a surprise with the transfer portal as an established, official method, but it was still a bit of a shock to peruse Drury's roster in the preseason and see Cameron Craig as one of the first names. The former Pac-12 champion at Arizona State was last seen in the first semester of 2020 for Ohio State. He currently sits #1 in the 100 free and #3 in the 100 fly and contributed 42.7/1:36.5 free relay splits for the Panthers. Considering he's apparently had an almost two year break prior to coming to Drury, he may have more to drop with another semester of training.
Also in the sprint category, Jack Armstrong, formerly of Grand Canyon and Auburn, has surfaced at Arkadelphia, Arkansas based Henderson State University. With 20.06/43.95 midseason sprint times, he's a bit off his bests last year of 19.30/42.77, but still makes a formidable sprint duo with Bahamian record-holder and current 50 free national leader (19.25) Lamar Taylor.
Tangentially, between Taylor (Bahamas) and Thompson (Trinidad & Tobago), D2 is continuing the rise of Caribbean swimming most epitomized by the Cayman Islands World Champ and Tennessee sophomore Jordan Crooks.
Tampa also picked up a stud distance swimmer in Hayden Curley, formerly of Louisville. At their midseason invite, Curley went 1:36.84/4:20.77/8:56.58/15:15.26 frees, 1:47.63 back, and 3:49.25 IM. His PR mile of 14:52.19 is three seconds faster than the NCAA record, while his 500 and 1000 bests are within spitting distance.
Going to the longer end of the spectrum, Nova Southeastern picked up a game changer in Florida State transfer Emily Trieschmann. At the Queens Fall Frenzy, she went 51.34/1:47.92/4:44.97/10:00.37/16:39.01 frees. The 200, 500, and 1650 are #1 in the country (the 500 and 1650 by 8 seconds each), while the 1000 is #2. Having the 1000 as an event in D2 and the ability to swim 4 events makes her much more valuable than in D1.
Record 💥 Breaker!
Emily Trieschmann has set a new NSU and Sunshine State Conference record in the 500 freestyle!
— NSU Swimming (@NSU_Swim)
Nov 18, 2022
Records And Scares
At Colorado Mesa's TYR Invitational, Ben Sampson had a meet to remember. The sophomore, who's high school best swim was a 52.21 100 back, went 19.89/44.15/1:36.78 frees, 21.43/46.06/1:40.73 backs, and 1:44.96/3:50.23 IMs at 4500 feet of altitude. Even with the low oxygen, that 200 back is the fastest ever swam in Division 2, just beating out Matt Josa's NCAA meet record 1:40.74. The time sits him 10th out of any NCAA swimmer this year, and the altitude adjustment to 1:39.53 would put him in 3rd. Goes almost without saying that he's the favorite in that 200 back (the next fastest D2 time thus far is Drury's Nathan Bighetti in 1:42.82), one of the favorites in any event he chooses to swim in March and a real weapon for Colorado Mesa as they look to get on the podium after a 6th place finish in 2022.
Findlay's Daniel Garcia is also approaching a national record. At the Calvin Winter Invite, the sophomore popped a 51.93 100 breast, closing in on Anton Lobanov's 51.63 national record from 2015. He split 24.1/27.7, so some work on the back half could get him that extra few tenths he needs. Lobanov's legendary 1:51.71 200 breast might be safe for a bit though, the top time in the 200 this year is 1:55.87 from Oklahoma Christian's reigning champion Amrein.
Small School Relay Hopefuls
A couple smaller schools put together some eye-popping relays in the first semester and will look to continue that success come March.
Augustana (South Dakota) is a relatively new program, starting their women's team in 2016. At their home invitational in November, freshman Bryn Greenwaldt popped a #2 ranked 22.50 50 free, a PR by half a second. She's also a hurdler and high jumper for the Viking track team, so she certainly has the athletic chops. Kamryn Robarge also went a near-PR 23.35 that sits at #14 in the nation currently. The two combined with teammates Angel Chan and Makoa Montgomery for a 1:32.80 200 free relay that sits at #4 in the nation and would have placed 6th at NCAAs in 2022.
Meanwhile on the men's side, the University of Findlay might be prepping to make a run at a couple national relay records. The team sits #1 in the 200 medley relay and #2 in the 400 medley relay after school record 1:25.38 (splits 21.47/23.60/20.73/19.58) and 3:09.73 (splits 48.54/51.87/45.86/43.46) performances at the Calvin Winter Invite.
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